Happy Birthday Sara Teasdale

A fatalist poet, Sara Teasdale may be most famous for her poem “I shall not care” which many people mistakenly believe is her suicide note.  In fact she published that poem in 1915.  Her lover, Vachel Lindsay, took his own life in 1931 and she died from an overdose of sleeping pills in 1933.

I Shall Not Care; by Sara Teasdale

When I am dead and over me bright April
shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.

I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
when rain bends down the bough,
and I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
than you are now.

-o0o-

Her poems are powerful through their simplicity.  “There will come soft rains” became a Ray Bradbury short story, and you can instantly see why.  The poem could and should be the anthem of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) who seek to protect planet earth by eliminating mankind.

There will come soft rains: by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
and swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

and frogs in the pools singing at night,
and wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

robins will wear their feathery fire
whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

and not one will know of the war, not one
will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
if mankind perished utterly;

and Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
would scarcely know that we were gone.

Happy Birthday Cat Stevens

cat-stevens-teaser-and-the-firecat-inside

1948 born Steven Demetre Georgiou, son of a Swedish mother and a Greek-Cypriot father.  His stage name was Cat Stevens.  I grew up listening to him.  When I learned to play the guitar it was to learn his songs.

His father was Greek-Orthodox, his mother a Baptist and he attended a Catholic school.  Always a man searching for the spiritual something that is very clear in his lyrics.  He found his own spiritual home in the Quran and is now called Yusuf Islam.

He has many great songs and great lyrics.  This one has an environmental message and asks a question we should never forget.  It reminds me of this quote:

Canada, the most affluent of countries, operates on a depletion economy which leaves destruction in its wake. Your people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”……Alanis Obomsawin of the Abenaki in “Who is the Chairman of This Meeting?” by Ralph Osborne, Toronto, 1972.

 

Where do the children play: by Cat Stevens

Well I think it’s fine, building jumbo planes
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train
Switch on summer from a slot machine
Yes, get what you want to if you want ’cause you can get anything

I know we’ve come a long way
We’re changing day to day
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas
And you make them long and you make them tough
But they just go on and on and it seems that you can’t get off

Oh, I know we’ve come a long way
We’re changing day to day
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you’ve cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air
Will you keep on building higher ’til there’s no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?

I know we’ve come a long way
We’re changing day to day
But tell me, where do the children play?

Cruise Control Freak

country-road

You know Cruise Control, that excellent feature which allows you to set your speed in the car and take your foot off the accelerator.
It is good for the environment because it helps you drive efficiently.  It is good for your pocket too as fuel bills go down.
It is also a great way to avoid speeding traps and their associated fines, points on your license etc.

You also know what a control freak is.  This is someone who exhibits symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
They need to control their environment.  To achieve this control they need to control how others interact in the environment.
Control freaks tell everyone else how to behave.

Give Cruise Control to a Control Freak and you have a new hazard on the road, the Cruise Control Freak (CCF).
The CCF likes to control speed, costs, penalties etc.  But that is not enough for the control freak in them.
They want to control everyone else on the road too.  If you pass them out they become upset, especially if they are travelling at the max speed limit.

Mostly their issues are self contained.  The CCF is not a problem on a motorway or a dual carriageway.
On a minor road they become terrorists.  Imagine yourself on a secondary road in the Irish countryside.
The speed limit is ostensibly 80 km/h.  In reality the driving conditions are very variable.  At times you will manage 80km/h.
In many circumstances you will struggle to drive faster than 60km/h.  Driving flexibility is required.  These are not cruise control roads.
The CCF sets their cruise control at 80km and quickly finds they can’t maintain that speed safely.  So they drop it to 60km/h.

Along you come, and find yourself stuck behind a car cruising along blithely at 60km/h on a road that allows 80km/h.  The car ahead maintains speed.
The cruise control is set low and the driver is refusing to be flexible.  Congratulations, you have met a CCF.  Time to seethe and fume.

Fixed V boundless

Francis Swaine:  HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

Francis Swaine: HMS Flora crossing with a Schooner

My mother likes to tell the story of the time my oldest brother got a new bike.  Someone was playing with his pump and he told them to stop because they would “use it up” as though the pump contained a limited supply of air, or a fixed allocation of uses.

Some things are fixed and others are boundless.  What I mean by this is that certain things have a limit to them while others are quite without limits.

In the poem below Shakespeare talks of things we once thought of as boundless but now know to have fixed limits.  The “soundless deep” has a bottom and we can now measure it.  The “broad main” of Shakespeare’s day conjured up images of an undiscovered ocean, new lands and no limits.  Today our world is a smaller place by far and every ocean is fenced in by well established borders.

Our entire planet comes with limits.  If we don’t respect those limits then there will be no long term future for mankind.  There are too many humans on the planet and we are pushing the environment to its limit with our consumption.  If mankind does not plan and implement a sustainable relationship with the Earth then the future will belong to some later evolution.

If you want to try to use things up have a go at using up things that are truly boundless and are also positive.  Try to use up all your smiles and your laughs.  Try to use up all the compliments you can think of by giving them away to others.  Use up your love, kindness and generosity.  Use up all the music and dance in the world.  Use up the sunrises and the sunsets, watch every one of them.

Try to avoid using up all your frowns, harsh words and criticisms of others.  Save them up in case you need them in the future.

Sonnet LXXX; William Shakespeare

O! how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might,
To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.
But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,
The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,
My saucy bark, inferior far to his,
On your broad main doth wilfully appear.
Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,
Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride;
Or, being wracked, I am a worthless boat,
He of tall building, and of goodly pride:
Then if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this, my love was my decay.